Alexander LUKASHENKO. A Shock Ther­apy Is Not an Op­tion

Be­larus will stay com­mit­ted to the peo­ple-ori­ented devel­op­ment model

Economy of Belarus - - CONTENTS -

Be­larus will stay com­mit­ted to the peo­ple-ori­ented devel­op­ment model

De­spite the se­ri­ous chal­lenges in the econ­omy and the fi­nan­cial mar­ket, Be­larus’ so­cial pri­or­i­ties will re­main in­tact. Eco­nomic pol­icy pri­or­i­ties will not be changed: a shock ther­apy is not ac­cept­able for Be­larus. Be­larus Pres­i­dent Alexander Lukashenko made the state­ment dur­ing the open dia­logue with Be­laru­sian and for­eign re­porters in late Jan­uary. The con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the Be­laru­sian head of state and the mass me­dia com­mu­nity cov­ered all kinds of top­ics. A large num­ber of the ques­tions were fo­cused on the coun­try’s so­cial and eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

Last year Be­larus’ open and ex­port-ori­ented econ­omy en­coun­tered a num­ber of dif­fi­cult tri­als. The war in Ukraine played its part as well as fall­ing oil prices and sub­se­quent prob­lems in the Rus­sian econ­omy, west­ern sanc­tions against Rus­sia and the coun­try’s re­cip­ro­cal mea­sures, the de­val­u­a­tion of the na­tional cur­ren­cies of Be­larus’ main trad­ing part­ners. Th­ese fac­tors are still at play. How­ever, de­spite all the com­pli­ca­tions the Gov­ern­ment in­tends to stick to the so­cially-ori­ented devel­op­ment pol­icy.

“The model we have had con­tin­ues to ex­ist. We are not go­ing to aban­don it. It is called a so­cially-ori­ented model, with peo­ple in its fo­cus,” noted the head of state. “I will stick to this model as long as I am pres­i­dent. We came up with this model, we cre­ated this model, we made up our minds to fol­low the model and we should stick to it with­out sway­ing, par­tic­u­larly in a cri­sis.”

“The mankind, in­di­vid­ual so­ci­eties and in­di­vid­ual peo­ple tend to de­sire changes. It is only nat­u­ral,” the Be­laru­sian leader stressed. “Changes pre­vent stag­na­tion. At the same time any change on the na­tional scale af­fects mil­lions of peo­ple. Not only the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion but neigh­bor­ing coun­tries in a cer­tain way. This is why changes have to be thought through. The so­ci­ety is of­ten un­pre­pared for the changes that politi­cians can come up with.”

“If I de­cide to fol­low the most ef­fec­tive Amer­i­can model, to­mor­row the streets will be filled with mil­i­tants and all kinds of sub­ver­sive el­e­ments. Ev­ery­one will try to come here, teach us, and stage ri­ots,” said Alexander Lukashenko. “But the most im­por­tant thing is that peo­ple will be hun­gry and out of jobs. We may not sur­vive that. This is why a shock ther­apy is not an op­tion.”

Af­ter the USSR down­fall the restora­tion of the Be­laru­sian econ­omy had its fair share of trou­bles mainly gen­er­ated by the global cri­sis. There were com­plains, in par­tic­u­lar, about the per­for­mance of the gov­ern­ment sys­tem, the agribusi­ness, and the civil en­gi­neer­ing in­dus­try and such com­plaints are heard now, too. The coun­try’s lead­ers, the new Gov­ern­ment among oth­ers, are busy deal­ing with the prob­lems. But on the whole, in­de­pen­dent Be­larus kept the best prac­tices from its past for the sake of eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

“We have taken the best prac­tices out of those we had,” noted the Pres­i­dent. “We have re­vived do­mes­tic com­pa­nies, they worked and did well, and they will con­tinue work­ing. I guar­an­tee you that they will work! We will re­cover from this dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion in our econ­omy.”

Shut­ting down en­ter­prises and sell­ing them off for a song in the time of cri­sis is the sim­plest so­lu­tion there is. It is of­ten pushed for un­der the guise of the so-called struc­tural re­forms, said the Be­laru­sian leader. But if it were done, thou­sands of peo­ple would lose their jobs and would be out in the street.

At the same time it is im­por­tant to in­crease the com­pet­i­tive abil­ity of Be­laru­sian man­u­fac­tur­ers and di­ver­sify mer­chan­dise ex­port for the sake of keep­ing do­mes­tic com­pa­nies afloat. By the way, the Be­laru­sian mul­ti­ple-vec­tor for­eign pol­icy stems from the in­ten­tion. At the core of the pol­icy is the need to en­sure eco­nomic se­cu­rity. The more tar­get mar­kets are avail­able, the stead­ier the econ­omy is. It is

worth not­ing that re­sults have been achieved al­ready in this field. At present Be­laru­sian prod­ucts, in par­tic­u­lar, food, are in de­mand not only in Rus­sia, but also in non-CIS states.

“This is why in­creas­ing ex­port is a fea­si­ble task,” the Be­laru­sian head of state is con­vinced. “At present there is a strong de­mand for Be­larus-made prod­ucts in Venezuela, China, and other coun­tries. There is a great deal of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts that we make and can eas­ily sell.”

The Eurasian Eco­nomic Union opens up new op­por­tu­ni­ties for Be­larus, in­clud­ing ex­port ones. It is a most im­por­tant in­te­gra­tion project that Be­larus and its part­ners had been work­ing for years to bring about. Launched on 1 Jan­uary 2015, the union of­fers a num­ber of ad­van­tages. A tar­get mar­ket with the pop­u­la­tion of roughly 170 mil­lion peo­ple is one of the key ad­van­tages for Be­larus.

“We have to use the op­por­tu­ni­ties granted to us as part of the in­te­gra­tion project,” stressed the Pres­i­dent.

Cer­tainly, the way to­wards cre­at­ing an ef­fec­tively op­er­at­ing union will not be easy. The sides have yet to deal with mul­ti­ple is­sues and oil all the mech­a­nisms of the union. But there is no al­ter­na­tive to eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion at present. The en­tire world is get­ting in­te­grated. Such pro­cesses are in mo­tion, for in­stance, be­tween the USA and Canada, in Latin Amer­ica. This is why Be­larus, which pre­sides over the Eurasian Eco­nomic Union in the first year of the new in­te­gra­tion project, in­tends to work hard to fa­cil­i­tate deeper in­te­gra­tion and bring about a union of equals with­out re­stric­tions and ex­emp­tions.

“If the agree­ments hold, we will de­vot­edly ful­fill all our com­mit­ments in the Eurasian Eco­nomic Union,” as­sured the Pres­i­dent.

Thus, Be­larus’ tra­di­tional pri­or­i­ties, which in­clude well­be­ing of peo­ple, mul­ti­ple vec­tors of the for­eign pol­icy, drive to­wards in­te­gra­tion, will stay rel­e­vant. This is why the ex­ist­ing devel­op­ment model does not have to be re­worked. It is nec­es­sary to stick to one’s own pol­icy, fol­low one’s own way in or­der to sur­vive no mat­ter the cost while aware of the rea­sons of the dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion, noted the Be­laru­sian leader.

“When new chal­lenges arise, we are forced to re­spond to them. There­fore, it is no time for sway­ing,” stressed Alexander Lukashenko. “We just have to fol­low our own way. I was not the one to come up with the say­ing ‘If you keep walk­ing, you will get there’”.

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